7:30 PM ET, November 8, 2012
Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- E.J. Manuel and Florida State had no reason to panic when they got the ball with 2:19 to go needing to score.
That fearlessness might have had a lot to do with Manuel being the one in charge.
The senior quarterback hit Rashad Greene with a slant pass that Greene took 39 yards for a touchdown with 40 seconds to play, and the Seminoles (No. 10 BCS, No. 8 AP) survived a scare to beat Virginia Tech 28-22 on Thursday night.
"Nobody was flustered, nobody was afraid," Manuel said about the drive that followed Virginia Tech's go-ahead field goal. "We all knew what we needed to do. We feel like we're built for things like that, and it showed tonight."
The Seminoles (9-1, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their fourth straight and moved within a victory against Maryland on Nov. 17 of securing a spot in the ACC championship game Dec. 1. And they did it in dramatic fashion.
Limited to minus-15 rushing yards for the game, the Seminoles got 7 from James Wilder Jr. on a fourth-and-1 play from their 41 on the final drive, and Manuel, a Virginia Beach native, hit Greg Dent for 13 yards two plays later. After Manuel threw a pass away under pressure, he hit Greene on a short slant against a zone defense and Greene took it all the way.
"It was basic, simple," Manuel said. "Get him the ball, and Rashad did the rest."
Manuel was sacked five times, but finished 25 of 42 for 326 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Greene caught six passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
The duo also teamed up late in the first half after the Hokies had held them to no yards for the first 12 minutes of the second quarter. Manuel led a precise five-play, 71-yard drive to his 25-yard connection with Greene with 48 seconds left.
The Hokies (4-6, 2-4) lost for the fifth time in six games despite holding Florida State to 311 yards, more than 200 below its average, and will have to beat Boston College and Virginia to qualify for a bowl game for the 20th straight year.
"We've experienced some things this year that guys haven't experienced around here in a long time," coach Frank Beamer said.
His team's nation's-best eight-year streak of winning 10 games will end.
"We actually had the perfect play drawn up, but we missed a block," Thomas said. "I probably would have scored."
The Hokies' go-ahead drive came after a stellar defensive series that ended in a safety.
After the Seminoles took over at their 20, Manuel threw incomplete on first down and James Gayle sacked him for a 10-yard loss on second down. A delay of game penalty moved the ball back to the 5 and, when the Seminoles tried running Devonta Freeman to the left, Jack Tyler caught him from behind in the end zone. Freeman tried to throw it, an illegal forward pass, and the safety pulled the Hokies to 20-19.
It also gave them the ball, but when they only managed a field goal, the Seminoles made them pay.
"Thursday night? Virginia Tech? This is what I watched every year and now I've experienced it, and it's crazy," Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner said.
The Seminoles opened a 20-10 lead with a 49-yard touchdown drive after recovering a fumble by Hokies wide receiver Marcus Davis. Manuel completed three passes on the six-play drive, including a 10-yard bullet to Greg Dent in the back of the end zone with 6:53 left in the third quarter.
Virginia Tech replied quickly, driving 80 yards in eight plays. Thomas hit Corey Fuller for 44 and 14 yards on the drive, and ran it in himself from the 5, bulling over several defenders.
The game was delayed for about 10 minutes in the third quarter when Virginia Tech safety Michael Cole was hurt and lay face-down and motionless on the field. As the crowd stood in silence, Cole was taken away by ambulance. The school said he had a neck sprain, but had feeling and movement in his extremities.
"Michael Cole suffered a cervical neck sprain this evening," head trainer Mike Goforth said in a statement released after the game. "He was conscious on the field, able to move all extremities, but had neck pain and numbness in the upper extremities."
Goforth said a CT scan was negative for any fracture and Cole was to be released from LewisGale Montgomery Hospital.
Replays showed Cole's head apparently crashing into the side of a Seminoles player on an 11-yard run by Lonnie Pryer.
The Seminoles arrived with the nation's No. 3 scoring offense, averaging nearly 45 points, but the Hokies neutralized it for the first 27 minutes, allowing just a pair of field goals by Dustin Hopkins. The placekicker finished the night with nine points, leaving hi, two shy of breaking the NCAA record for points by a kicker. Boise State's Kyle Brotzman had 439.
The Seminoles twice started drives near midfield early, and got nothing out of them. The first ended with Donovan Riley's interception of Manuel's pass at the 1, and the second with a three-and-out punt.
But after Thomas drove Virginia Tech 68 yards for the game's first touchdown, giving the Hokies a 10-6 lead, Manuel and the Seminoles -- held to zero yards at that point in the second quarter -- clicked.
Manuel hit Kevin Benjamin for 12 and 17 yards, and then Greene beat Kyle Fuller twice -- for 22 and 25 yards -- to finish a five-play, 71-yard drive in 1:58 to give Florida State a 13-10 lead.
On the Hokies' drive, Thomas connected with Fuller's older brother, Corey, on three third-down plays. The first went for 33 yards on third-and-9, the second for 15 yards on third-and-4 and the last for 4 yards and the touchdown on a perfectly thrown third-and-2 fade to the right corner of the end zone.
Florida State took a 6-3 lead after Tyler Hunter intercepted Thomas' pass at the Hokies 34. Virginia Tech had a chance to tie when it recovered a punt that was fumbled by Hunter at the Seminoles 30 on the next possession, but three plays netted only 4 yards and Journell's 43-yard field goal was wide left.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Logan Thomas was intercepted by Tyler Hunter as the Hokies staged a desperation drive in the final minute.
Gameball goes to... Rashad Greene. He caught six passes for 125 yards and 2 TDs, including the game-winning score with 40 seconds left.
Stat of the game... Minus-15. The Seminoles won despite being held to negative rushing yards and EJ Manuel being sacked five times.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-14||6-16|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|FG||10:47||Dustin Hopkins 52 Yd||3||0|
|FG||07:29||Cody Journell 35 Yd||3||3|
|FG||14:56||Dustin Hopkins 45 Yd||6||3|
|TD||02:49||Corey Fuller 4 Yd Pass From Logan Thomas (Cody Journell Kick)||6||10|
|TD||00:48||Rashad Greene 25 Yd Pass From EJ Manuel (Dustin Hopkins Kick)||13||10|
|TD||06:53||Greg Dent 10 Yd Pass From EJ Manuel (Dustin Hopkins Kick)||20||10|
|TD||02:54||Logan Thomas 5 Yd Run (Cody Journell Kick)||20||17|
|SF||06:59||Penalty On Devonta Freeman In End Zone||20||19|
|FG||02:19||Cody Journell 21 Yd||20||22|
|TD||00:40||Rashad Greene 39 Yd Pass From EJ Manuel (Ej Manuel Pass To Nick O'Leary For Two-Point Conversion)||28||22|
Virginia Tech held Florida State to minus-15 yards rushing last night, and still lost. FSU's minus-15 yards rushing is the 2nd lowest rushing total for any FBS team since 2000, in a game that they actually won.[+]
Fewest Rush Yards in a Win - FBS Since 2000
E.J. Manuel is having quite a season for Florida State - 3 more touchdown passes Thursday give him a career high 19 on the year. And take a look at his touchdown-to-interception differential. He was just a plus-6 in his first 3 seasons combined, but he's now plus-14 this year.[+]
EJ Manuel TD-Int Differential - Career at Florida State
After his first half interception against Florida State, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has now thrown a pick in 8 straight games. It is the longest such streak in the country this season.
ESPN Stats & Information